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reflect how seldom those excel in either, whom their education has qualified to compose books.

The admirer of Greek and Roman literature will meet, in this collection, with editions little known to the most inquisitive criticks, and which have escaped the observation of those whose great employment has been the collation of copies; nor will he findonly the most antient editions of Faustus, Jenson, Spira, Sweynheim, and Pannartz, but the most accurate likewise and beautiful of Colinæus, the Junta, Plantin, Aldus, the Stephens, and Elzevir, with the commentaries and observations of the most learned editors.

Nor are they accompanied only with the illustrations of those who have confined their attempts to particular writers, but of those likewise who have treated on any part of the Greek or Roman antiquities, their laws, their customs, their dress, their buildings, their wars, their revenues, or the rítes and ceremonies of their worship, and those that have endeavoured to explain any of their authors from their statues or their coins.

Next to the ancients, those writers deserve to be mentioned, who, at the restoration of literature, imitated their language and their style with so great success, or who laboured with so much industry to make them understood: such were Philelphus and Politian, Scaliger and Buchanan, and the poets of the age of Leo the Tenth; these are likewise to be found in this library, together with the Deliciæ, or collections of all nations.

Painting is so nearly allied to poetry, that it cannot be wondered that those who have so much esteemed the one, have paid an equal regard to the other; and therefore it may be easily ima. gined, that the collection of prints is numerous in an uncommon degree; but, surely, the expec- . tation of every man will be exceeded, when he is informed that there are more than forty thousand engraven from Raphael, Titian, Guido, the Car, raches, and a thousand others, by Nanteuil, Hollar, Collet, Edelinck, and Dorigny, and other engravers of equal reputation.

There is also a great collection of original draw. ngs, of which three seem to deserve a particular mention; the first exhibits a representation of the inside of St. Peter's church at Rome; the second, of that of St. John Lateran; and the third, of the high altar of St. Ignatius ; all painted with the utmost accuracy, in their proper colours. .

As the value of this great collection may be conceived from this account, however imperfect, as the variety of subjects must engage the curio. sity of men of different studies, inclinations, and employments, it may be thought of very little use to mention any slighter advantages, or to dwell on the decorations and embellishments which the generosity of the proprietors has bestowed upon it; yet, since the compiler of the Thuanian catalogue thought not even that species of elegance below his observation, it may not be improper to observe, that the Harleian library, perhaps, excels all others, not more in the number and excellence, than in the splendour of its volumes.

We may now surely be allowed to hope, that our catalogue will not be thought unworthy of the

publick curiosity; that it will be purchased as a record of this great collection, and preserved as one of the memorials of learning.

The patrons of literature will forgive the pur. chaser of this library, if he presumes to assert some claim to their protection and encouragement, as he may

have been instrumental in continuing to this nation the advantage of it. The sale of Vossius's collection into a foreign country, is, to this day, regretted by men of letters; and if this effort for the prevention of another loss of the same kind should be disadvantageous to him, no man will hereafter willingly risque his fortune in the cause of learning

AN

ESSAY

ON THE

ORIGIN AND IMPORTANCE

OF

SMALL TRACTS AND FUGITIVE PIECES.

WRITTEN FOR THE INTRODUCTION TO

THE HARLEIAN MISCELLANY.

TH
HOUGH the scheme of the following Miscel-

lany is so obvious, that the title alone is sufficient to explain it; and though several collections have been formerly attempted upon plans, as to the method, very little, but, as to the capacity and execution, very different from ours; we, being possessed of the greatest variety for such a work, hope for a more general reception than those confined schemes had the fortune to meet with ; and, there. fore, think it not wholly unnecessary to explain our intentions, to display the treasure of materials out of which this Miscellany is to be compiled, and to exhibit a general idea of the pieces which we intend to insert in it.

There is, perhaps, no nation in which it is so necessary, as in our own, to assemble, from time to

time, the small tracts and fugitive pieces, which are occasionally published; for, besides the general subjects of enquiry, which are cultivated by us, in common with every other learned nation, our constitution in church and state naturally gives birth to a multitude of performances, which would either not have been written, or could not have been made publick in any other place.

The form of our government, which gives every man, that has leisure, or curiosity, or vanity, the right of enquiring into the propriety of publick measures, and by consequence, obliges those who are intrusted with the administration of national affairs, to give an account of their conduct to almost every man who demands it, may be reasonably imagined to have occasioned innumerable pamphlets, which would never have appeared under arbitrary governments, where every man lulls himself in indolence under calamities, of which he cannot promote the redress, or thinks it prudent to conceal the uneasiness, of which he cannot complain without danger.

The multiplicity of religious sects tolerated among us, of which every one has found opponents and vindicators, is another source of unexhaustible publication, almost peculiar to ourselves; for controversies cannot be long continued, nor frequently revived, where an inquisitor has a right to shut up the disputants in dungeons; or where silence can be imposed on either party, by the refusal of a licence.

Not that it should be inferred from hence, that political or religious controversies are the only products of the liberty of the British press; the mind

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